By Tom Henderson • Staff Writer • 

Builder: Dayton affordable housing project an example to others

Marcus Larson / News-Register##Darrick Price, president of Fishbone Construction and the nonprofit Housing People, details plans for a new subdivision in Dayton during a groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday.
Marcus Larson / News-Register##Darrick Price, president of Fishbone Construction and the nonprofit Housing People, details plans for a new subdivision in Dayton during a groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday.

DAYTON — Somewhere out there are nine families who likely think they will never be able to buy a home of their own. They could be in for a big surprise if they are interested in living in Dayton.

Ground was broken Tuesday on a 16-home subdivision across from Dayton High School, at the corner of Ferry and Sweeney streets. Nine of the homes are reserved for families with household incomes of 80 percent or less of the median area income.

In Dayton, that figure is roughly $60,000 or less for a family of four.

Darrick Price, who is building the subdivision through his Fishbone Construction, is helping qualified families obtain low-interest loans with affordable monthly mortgage payments through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development program.

The houses set aside for affordable housing will have sale prices in the low $300,000s, Price said, with monthly mortgage payments ranging from $900 to $1,100.

“We can build really, really nice houses and put together mortgages as low as 1 percent extended over 38 years,” he said. “With those terms, we can make it super affordable.”

Families pay at least $900 to $1,100 per month for rent, he added. 

“We’re making really nice market-rate homes, but with really affordable financing, so we don’t have to worry about building homes that may not hold up or last as long,” he said. 

Price spent 11 years building neighborhoods of affordable housing through Community Home Builders in McMinnville. After he left the nonprofit organization in 2017, he formed both Fishbone Construction and a nonprofit called Housing People.

Fishbone builds the homes. Housing People — through the USDA and other resources — helps families afford them.

“My relationship with Rural Development goes back more than a decade,” Price said. “We worked together closely on affordable housing issues for a long time.”

Preliminary work is scheduled to begin on the 2.6-acre site in three weeks. Actual home construction on the $6.2 million subdivision will likely begin in October, Price said.

“In the next 18 months, we should be wrapping up with all of the homes,” he said.

Price added it’s important to include at least seven market-rate houses in the subdivision.

“It’s good to have a blended-income approach,” he said. “It provides a little more economic stability to the neighborhood. You have a different kind of community with different demographics living there.”

Along with the USDA, executives at First Federal Savings & Loan are assisting with financing of the mortgages.

“It’s great to work with local owners and a local contractor to provide a beautiful development, but also the affordable housing component that’s so important right now,” said First Federal CEO Jim Schlotfeldt.

First Federal’s participation has been key, Price said.

“It’s not good to ask any lender to fund an entire project because it creates a different level of risk for them,” he said. “If we can build out a team where we have different lenders involved, it’s better for everyone in the long run.”

Piper and Tom Sweeney originally owned the land, purchasing it in 1986 to raise marionberries. However, as Dayton grew, Tom Sweeney said the land became difficult to farm because the agricultural chemicals he used had to be sprayed too close to the high school and nearby residences.

The Sweeneys sold most of the original 13.7 acres for residential development in 2005. They kept the rest in reserve for possible commercial development.

He and his wife would still like to see a small portion of the subdivision used for a new coffee shop or pizza parlor, Tom  said. However, they don’t want to run the business themselves and continue to look for the right tenant.

They decided to name the subdivision Filbert Pointe, said Piper Sweeney.

“Filberts are becoming more and more known in this area, and we grow them, and they’ve been a good crop for us,” she said.

Price began working on the subdivision a year ago.

“It’s not like you can just roll up and starting building houses,” he said. “There is a lot that goes into it. There’s a year’s worth of conversations and planning. If we don’t have a city that’s supportive of our efforts like this, it just doesn’t work.”

Dayton Mayor Beth Wytoski works with Price on the city council. She attended Tuesday’s groundbreaking to provide her official support behind the  project.

“Dayton is not unique in experiencing the housing crisis,” Wytoski said. “We look forward to populating the homes with a lot of our residents who have been waiting to buy.”

Drew Davis, the single-family housing programs director for the USDA’s Oregon office, noted the average consumer can’t buy a truck for what he paid for his first house.

“We deal with hundreds of loans every year,” he said. “We get a lot of people who qualify and are eligible, but in the market that’s happening here, they won’t even get an opportunity to put a bid in for a home.”

Land-use restrictions also create a barrier for affordable housing, he said.

“The dearth of available land to build on, that’s a problem, but I think there are other ways to work with landowners inside a UGB and inside a city to help them think about creative approaches to develop their property in a way that’s good for the community,” Price said.

Other communities should look at what’s happening in Dayton, he added. “It’s a model that others can emulate.”

Price feels particularly good about the subdivision as a local resident and city councilor.

“I live just a couple of blocks down the road, so it’s really neat to be able to do something here in our community where I know we’re providing nice homes for folks who are our neighbors and nice homes for people who need just a little step up,” he said.

When he left Community Home Builders, Price said he originally intended to build more traditional subdivisions.

“Then I decided to draw upon my expertise in affordable housing and put some new approaches together,” he said. “As we started Fishbone Construction, we realized there were some opportunities to do some good affordable housing in partnership with various other agencies and civic-minded folks.”

That includes Piper and Tom Sweeney, he added.

“They live here in Dayton, I live here in Dayton,” Price said. “We just have similar circles here in town. We were friends long before we started working on this project.”

Piper Sweeney is already proud of Filbert Pointe.

“We’ve just been really impressed with their expertise, of all the things we never would have thought of that they did,” she said. “I think we’re going to end up with a really amazing subdivision and an amazing neighborhood for our community.”

Price said people will like what they eventually see. “As folks travel up and down Ferry, there will be a really nice kind of bungalow feeling,” he said. “It’s going to be really, really fantastic.”


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